On caste and a new Hinduism

Some of my Hindu American friends online engage in a defense of attacks on Hinduism by denying the necessary connection between caste and Hinduism. Since religion is made by men, this is true on the face of it. There is nothing necessary in any religion.

But, Hinduism is a religion strongly associated with the Indian subcontinent. Far more than Islam is necessarily associated with Arabia! (the greatest doctors of Islam were not Arabs, but more often Persians!) And caste is strongly associated with the Indian subcontinent. This is not a transitive relation, but the affinity is clear. It has hard to think about Hinduism without caste and jati, though it is possible (e.g., Tulsi Gabbard is a devout Hindu, but not Indian, while some Muslim Indians have their own forms of endogamous caste, despite not being Hindu).

Untouchable

Is this just a historical coincidence? Like many, I have read Nicholas Dirks’ Castes of Mind. Though Dirks acknowledges the ancient origins of varna and jatis, he puts great emphasis on the rationalization of the system under the British. Additionally, he points out the rise and fall of jats. The Indian landscape is communally fluid in its hierarchy.

This is plausible. But I do not believe it is true on a deep and fundamental level. I have come to this conclusion because genetics is so striking.

  1. Though the correlation is not perfect, within regions there is a strong association between “steppe” ancestry and caste status (more steppe means higher status)
  2. Dalits in the South have almost no steppe. The non-Dalit but non-Brahmins have some. In the north, Dalits in Uttar Pradesh have the least steppe, and in some ways are genetically closer to Dalits in Tamil Nadu than non-Dalits in Uttar Pradesh.
  3. There are clear indications of 1,500 of endogamy in a village in Andhra Pradesh (elsewhere too).

When I first stumbled onto these facts they were shocking and bizarre. Totally unexpected. I assumed some caste stratification, but this was ridiculous.

These are the reasons that though I believe the new modern Hindus do sincerely abhor caste and jati, it is sometimes hard to take their protestations that the connection between caste and Hinduism is incidental. You are {{{Brahmin}}}, the product of several thousands of years of endogamy written all over your genes, the scion of the priestly caste of Hinduism, protest that caste and jati have nothing to do with the religion! Except that the priestly castes seem to be amongst the most punctilious adherents to endogamy of all!

So what’s the future? As an atheist of Muslim familial background I have some advice: make Hinduism less Indian, because that is the fundamental issue. Hinduism evolved organically within the Indian subcontinent with jati and varna, and like intertwined siblings growing up in the same house, there are some shared characteristics. Grow up. Leave the house. Be your own person.

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107 Replies to “On caste and a new Hinduism”

  1. make Hinduism less Indian

    When members of RSS or modern Hindu spiritual organizations marry out of caste, does that count that as “making Hinduism less Indian”?

      1. Why a frowny face? What is inherently bad about caste endogamy? Serious question, because it seems to be an enthymeme in discussions around caste, but nobody ever interrogates it.

        Ironically in America, people always saw racial endogamy and romantic discrimination and as a natural and necessary exceptions to goals of racial equality…though in light of the George Floyd protests, even this has been challenged.

          1. Name one system bereft of hierarchy ? Caste acknowledges the hierarchy openly instead of trying to create a mismatch between words & reality {which has been a big concern in Indic philosophy} in favor of utilitarianism which hides reality behind sweet words of idealism.

            For e.g. Consider the different way of interpreting democracy & values inherit in it –
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xna7hQTZQo8 – Anastasia Piliavsky on “Hierarchy as a value in Indian democracy”

  2. The tragedy of Sanatan Dharma is that the most distopian aspect or the flaw that evolved known as Manusmriti became mainstream. Modern Hindus(Sanatanis) want to view Sanatan Dharma as the main aspect which has many roots. And Manusmriti can be thrown in a garbage bin.

    1. Given how difficult integrating the sentinelese would be, one can imagine the challenges that must have been faced 1500 years ago integrating disparate human groups. But instead of moving gradually to integration, they doubled down on the differences.

      Somehow we seem to be historically cursed with having exactly the backwards attitude on every thing – right from the elite that entrenched rather than eased out of jAti, to today’s degenerate elite who import exactly the wrong and productivity-diminishing stuff from the west like labour unions and NGO-centric dissent, instead of learning from China and Japan. The elite always take to bullshit, and the rest follow like cattle.

  3. //the priestly castes seem to be amongst the most punctilious adherents to endogamy of all//
    Interesting observation, given that Moorjani 2013 paper claims Brahmins (specially UP ones) were the LAST ones who stopped mixing.
    we had discussed this before, is there any new paper which has run DATES with indian castes like 2013 paper?

  4. Religion is often just a proxy for ethnicity, globalizing it undermines the whole purpose. Hindnats are realists and know civic nationalism can’t hold the territory together.

    1. Religious nationalism can’t hold India together either, in the long run, at least not the kind of religious nationalism that the BJP peddles.

      Personally I don’t particulalry want India to hold together- I’m a Tamil/Dravidian nationalist who thinks the subcontinent would be better off if it was divided into nation states on ethnolinguistic rather than religious lines, sort of like the old “United Bengal” idea with equivalents for other national groups as well. But if you do want a united Indian polity to last, the only conceivable way for that to happen is as an explicitly multinational state which respects the distinct ethnic and religious identities of the various groups that makes it up. More along the lines of the old Russian or Austro-Hungarian or even Ottoman Empires than along the lines of, say, the United States. Neither civic nor religious nationalism is going to work.

          1. Interesting (but also kinda unsurprising) how almost every person who advocates for a separate state, that I’ve come across, has either mostly lived within their state or outside India.

          2. Isthisreal, also sort of makes sense that someone living in India, but outside their own state, would be biased towards pan-indianism. They project their own comfort and identification with others onto their co-ethnics. Using my own example as a diaspora person, who now lives in the India, my relatives and co-ethnics find my close friendships and identification with other types of Indians to be a function of being from the outside (and not authentic to them). But then coming to hector st clare’s view, as I get older, not because of any lack of affection and care for North or East Indians, but out of a pragmatism that effective states have coherent cultures, and much of what ails India and cheats it’s people out their potential is that incoherence. Biharis and Tamils alike.

          3. ” but out of a pragmatism that effective states have coherent cultures, and much of what ails India and cheats it’s people out their potential is that incoherence. ”

            Cant become China without adopting its political and mono-cultural ways. Too much democracy ( diversity )

      1. \I’m a Tamil/Dravidian nationalist \
        This is a will-o-the-wisp. Tamil is one thing, Dravidian is another. You can’t be both or conflate the two by any stretch of imagination. If one is indded tamil or dravidian nationalist – however vaguely or implausibly defined- , one would not bother how rest of India loks like. This is a troll with obvious contradictions.
        Fringe Tamil nationalists are pouring shite over Dravdian parties in public forums for getting Tamilnadu in a blind end

        1. I’m well aware that “Tamil” and “Dravidian” are not the same thing, do you think I’m a fool? Tamils are a subgroup of the broader Dravidian language family though, and have historically been the best mobilized politically. Let’s just say that in my ideal world there would be a nation state for Tamils and any other Dravidian peoples thta wantd to join.

          1. \Tamils are a subgroup of the broader Dravidian language family\

            This where the logical fallacy or category error starts. ‘Tamils’ is an ethnic identity whether weak or strong . Language family is just that- a collection of languages – a linguist’s contruction. One is not a subgroup of another

            \nation state for Tamils and any other Dravidian peoples thta wantd to join.\.
            Why would any non tamil want to “join” an imagined nation state for tamils – when they can’t even understand each other.
            The dravidian movement is riddled with contradictions and impossibilities and lack of common sense – that is the reason for it’s impotence

      2. \More along the lines of the old Russian or Austro-Hungarian or even Ottoman Empires than along the lines of, say, the United States.\
        India now is light years away as a state which respects all people of all languages and religions compared to Russian or Austrian or Ottomon empires. One should be totally ignorant of history to praise these 3 empires as respectors of pluralism. India is even better than the USA, as people of different languages are not in a melting pot to lose their languages or ethnicities

      3. Hector St Clare, I agree somewhat. The indian republic based on civic nationalism can be thought of as a not so discontinuous successor state to the Raj, an empire really. Hindu nationalism is the the attempt to be honest about its founding logic and save the empire, but it will break on the rock of genuinely significant ethnic differences, which forums like these underestimate because of the selection that happens to even participate. But who knows, the dominant ethno-state paradigm could become obsolete and the multi-national state could be a more stable arrangement, not due to lethargy of the masses and grandiose ambition of a few, as it was in 1947, but because its utility as a regional bloc in a dangerous world

        1. “Hindu nationalism is the the attempt to be honest about its founding logic and save the empire, but it will break on the rock of genuinely significant ethnic differences, which forums like these underestimate because of the selection that happens to even participate.”

          Again , someone who finally understand More-Hindu and Less-Hindu region/ethnicity issues, unlike some other folks on the forum

          1. You got to change the more Hindu, less Hindu nomenclature. It’s mostly just confusing, especially for newcomers.

          2. I get your drift on the more-hindu/less-hindu, but with the muddled semantics of the term, feel like another could convey the idea better

          3. Criticism accepted.

            Frankly i don’t understand y folks get so defensive. Its as if they didn’t grew up in India or they lived in some alternate India.

  5. I have some observations on the statistical approaches of genetics to caste.

    The sampling methodology of most papers (Moorjani, Narasimhan) ALWAYS assume a strict link between Jati and Varna. There is absolutely no field evidence to prove the infallibility of this straitjacket. They basically sample modern caste groups and assume continuity into the deep past.

    Is there Brahmin DNA from 500 years ago? Or Kshatriya DNA from 1000 years ago? Worse there is no objective way to falsify this. We are never going to find a grave that states here lies a Brahmin or a Vaishya. Anything that is unfalsifiable is, well, unscientific.

    If we run a bit further with this observation, I assume that extrapolation into the Rakhigarhi woman will show that she was a Dalit?? Field observations on burial goods paint a completely different picture of her status.

    @Razib – if you say Hinduism and caste are interlinked organically, then the Moorjani paper means there was no Hinduism before the formation of caste? Then it does not make ontological sense anymore.

      1. Well… Hinduism is an ant and you are the boy with the magnifying glass. If you keep conflating Jati and Varna demotically as “caste” in scientific lexicon, then you are closing your eyes to social realities.

        Genetics in the context of “caste” now suffers from the “illusion of measurement”. You have started to discard real things from your schema because you are unable to measure them. I will give you an example.

        Cosmologists now firmly believe that Newton’s law of gravitation does not apply to galaxies as a whole. There is no inverse relationship with the mean square of distance. The reason Newton wrote it like that is so fucking mundane – his lens was only powerful enough that he could peer as far as Jupiter. He never saw the spiral arms of a galaxy that rotate faster than the centre (!).

        Jati and Varna were/are never so rigid like the way you keep depicting them. They are eminently adaptable and persistent.

    1. “We are never going to find a grave that states here lies a Brahmin or a Vaishya.”

      Lots of anthropology and ancient DNA studies involves graves that state exactly that (or the cultural equivalent outside of India), or come very close to doing so, or in the historic era, involve specific named individuals whose caste/legal status/cultural status is known from historic records. At least as often as not in the literate era, graves are marked with writings that say something about the person in the grave.

      For example, lots of ancient DNA work on the linguistically Uralic founding elite of Hungary proceeds on this basis.

      In the prehistoric time period, a deceased person’s status is often determined by symbolic aspects of the internment whose meaning is known from the continuation of practices into the historic era or by cracking the code of the symbols (e.g. types of grave goods or position of the body) in a way that is convincing due to other available evidence.

      For example, there are Rig Vedic passages that remark on the significance of burial v. cremation at a moment in time that was transitional between the practices that can aid in evaluating the status of a remains in a cemetery setting.

      1. @ohwilleke

        Which is why I am focussing on the Rakhigarhi woman in light of assertions about Steppes DNA, caste and Hinduism. If she doesn’t have Steppes DNA, was she a Dalit or was she not a Hindu at all? Or is it the assertion of geneticists that there was no Hinduism at all in the IVC?

        The Vagheesh paper glibly associates IE languages with Steppes DNA (no empirical proof though) and now we see a newer linkage of Hinduism with Steppes DNA.

        1. you’re a moron.

          that being said, the paper is clear that there is no person in india alive today who resembles the rakhigarhi woman. that’s the problem with engaging you people. you don’t know what you are talking about

          1. @Razib

            That’s what I am also saying. Your meta-heuristic of Steppes DNA being some kind of stand in proxy for Hinduism’s elites cannot be true and cannot be proven either way.

      2. “For example, there are Rig Vedic passages that remark on the significance of burial v. cremation at a moment in time that was transitional between the practices that can aid in evaluating the status of a remains in a cemetery setting.”

        >>> Very interesting observation, I’ll have a look at it myself. But, if it is correct, I can offer some explanation. It is known that Slavics burned their dead. This is one of the reasons why is difficult to find their ancient graves. However, pre-Slavic R1a buried their dead (based on this we have for e.g. ‘kurgan theory’, etc). Slavics are mostly I2a+R1a. I2a also burned their dead and because we have not many their ancient graves, too. It means that I2a Slavic component introduced this practice among Slavic who brought this to SA, i.e. the burning of dead in SA probably came from Vincha.

        Btw, we still haven’t explained the meaning of RG (Veda).

  6. You could make a reasonable case that the version of Hinduism that left India behind is Buddhism. I’m not sure Hinduism per se has much appeal outside of India.

    1. I’m not sure Hinduism per se has much appeal outside of India.

      There is lots of appeal but even the sects that don’t follow caste (which is all the reform sects basically), and are egalitarian still get tainted by orthodox practices and branding.

      This is similar to Islam where even the peaceful sects get tainted by extremist associations.

      The difference with Islam is Hinduism is non-confessional. So Hindu practices like Yoga, Tantra, Advaita style Self-Inquiry, will tend to get differentiated, secularized and adopted.

      Sometimes Woke-ists will claim these practices aren’t Hindu but won’t apply that same logic to caste. Vice vesa with Hindutva people will claim yoga is Hindu, but won’t apply that logic to caste.

      The reality is basically all traditional Indian practices that aren’t explicitly identified as non-Hindu get lumped into the Hindu banner.

      There is a lot of diversity and no set standards.

      Individual Hindu sampradayas like the Hare Krishnas, or BAPS or Arya Samaj do have a cohesive philosophy and codified set of religious norms.

      It is better to think of each of these sects as a seperate ‘traditional Indian religion’, with a common confessional identity as ‘Hindu’.

    2. Much of Southeast Asia was Hindu at one time, which suggests that you’re wrong. It isn’t Hindu *today*, with the exception of the Balinese and the Cham (although it’s had some lasting cultural influence even on the Buddhist and Islamic peoples there today), but there’s nothng in principle to suggest Hinduism can’t spread outside India.

      1. Aren’t Hindu societies in South East Asian proof that Caste is an Indian phenomenon instead of a Hindu one. The Angkor Empire of old had Brahmins but they never implement the Caste system that you find in India. Of course like all mainland SEA civilizations they also made large use of slaves.

        1. I think Bali doesn’t have caste either (although Bali hinduism is quite different from in the subcontinent).

          I’d be interested to know what caste system is like (if it exists) in Nepal or Sri Lanka.

  7. Can someone please explain the multiple enclosures on {{{Brahmin}}}. I have seen a similar construction elsewhere. Is this an Internet idiom or something else?

    1. Not to put words in Razib’s mouth, but I read that as the equivalent of scare quotes intended to show irony, or italics for emphasis, that will show up even on, for example, a cheap mobile phone or low end browser only computer, that can’t display text effects like bolding or italics. A similar common convention is to say this is *really important* if a comment or post user interface can’t do even basic html command (which obviously isn’t the case here).

  8. You don’t get it, Razib. Hinduism IS India, there is no Hinduism without India. Without India, you’re only left with some ancient philosophical&spiritual musings of long dead people. The real Hinduism, the Hinduism that lives&breathes is Indian Culture itself, you cannot divorce Indian Culture from religion and market it as a “Non-Indian” thing. This is why Hindus do not proselytize but instead look to “de-convert” Ethnic Indians who identify as Muslims.

    A non-Indian Hindu is an Oxymoron, you cannot remove the cultural/ethnic aspect of Hinduism. Bengalis, Tamils, kannadigas, Marathis etc etc are all Hindu Ethnicities, their culture is Hinduism.

    1. “Bengalis, Tamils, kannadigas, Marathis etc etc are all Hindu Ethnicities, their culture is Hinduism.”

      The first group is majority Muslim, while the 2nd is majority Dravidian, so there is that.

      I know. Small details.

      1. Apart from the opposition to Muslims, Hindi Hindus come across as the least Hindu group to me.

        As an example, I have met plenty of Tamil and Kannada Brahmins who have impressed me with their knowledge and practice of Hindu traditions, cant say the same about any Tiwari, Pandey, Dubey I have come across.

        Bengali Brahmins are an interesting bunch, they are not as religious as their South Indian counterparts, but they show the same fervour for knowledge and intellectual growth.

        1. Well its not surprising that u have formed this opinion , just by meeting those (region’s) Brahmins, who of course form the bulk of the population.

      2. So what? Hindi Speaking States are Persianized/Arabized by 1000 years of Mughal Rule. What about that, Saurav Mawlana??
        For the life of me, i will never understand how one can come from “BIMARU” parts of India, which has worse socio-economic indicators than sub-saharan Africa and still have this superiority complex of being “better” than South Indians who literally out earn and out live Hindi Belt.

          1. All you do is spam “We Wuzz Aryans” like a 15 yr old who just discovered 4chan.

            OK I’ll entertain you. Arabs are sitting on black Gold, which inflates their Global Status. The only thing Biharis and U.P wallahas are sitting on is mosques built over ruins of ancient temples and piles of raped hindu dead bodies and the crushing shame that they let it happen for a 1000 years.

            Your Mughal Harem Boy Mindset has gotten so bad that, you can only contextualise your existence in terms of Muslim Affairs. You’re unironically comparing yourselves with Arabs while trying to prove how you’re “More Hindu” than me lol

            Ah, that sweet sweet irony…

    2. जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी

  9. Ashis Nandy pointed out that the British judged Christianity by its philosophy, but Hinduism by everyday Hindus. The practice of Hinduism has kept evolving, and judging it by lag-prone statistics and texts leads to a limited picture.

    Take marriage stats for example, caste networks are simply the best ones available to arrange marriages. The point is that opposition to such marriages has dropped by many orders of magnitude.

    Indian Dalits regularly top civil service and college entrance exams, they are no longer seen as tainted by underachievement, so caste does not hold the same valence as it did earlier.

  10. I don’t really agree with this argument for a few reasons:

    1) Castes also facilitate mutual familial support and political organization, which are necessary in a country with a state as pathetic as that of India.

    2) You point to low caste exogamy rates. I think the bigger issue is that opposition to intercaste marriages has decreased considerably, and it’s increasingly considered out of bounds to attack people on the basis of caste.

    You spend a lot of time on Twitter. How many times do you see people making slurs about OBCs and SCs? How many times have you seen “sulla” and “katua” thrown around with reckless abandon?

    How many times have you seen people complain about a boy marrying a Chamar, and how many times have you heard of parents exhort children to marry “anyone but a Muslim”?

    —-

    Caste is here to stay as a feature of life, but its salience (especially its political salience) is going far down. Things have changed a lot since the 1980s-90s.

  11. HM, you’re indian american. born and raised. you have opinions, but they’re pretty different than people who actually live in india.

    i won’t bother answering the rest of your questions, some of them are ugra-level incomprehensible to me in terms of their relevance.

    i think you are touched by a romantic idea of an india that you never have lived full-time in. though i do think you will enjoy india more than the USA…we’ll only know in 10-20 years when you go back.

    1. Actually my questions were rhetorical. You are right that I do not live in India, but my family does…they are “trad” in habits, but there is a qualitative difference in the way they talk about Muslims and the way they talk about lower castes.

      Anyways, I don’t think I have said anything too outré…it’s pretty clear at this point that caste-based political mobilization, the juggernaut of a few decades back, has run into diminishing returns. This may change, Indian politics is volatile and unpredictable. If so, I will revise my opinions accordingly and admit I was wrong.

      1. Actually my questions were rhetorical. You are right that I do not live in India, but my family does…they are “trad” in habits, but there is a qualitative difference in the way they talk about Muslims and the way they talk about lower castes.

        you just changed the topic to something totally different

        u can take the indian out of India but… 😉

        1. I was discussing the salience or lack thereof of caste. I brought in my family as a way to underscore my point, because you contend that spending most of my time in America invalidates my views.

          1. because you contend that spending most of my time in America invalidates my view

            you’re just putting words into my mouth. you are pissing me off actually now.

          2. Sorry that I misunderstood you then. I had no intention to willingly misrepresent you.

            I think part of our discussion is lost in translation, so best to leave it here.

  12. Although finally recognised that they physically existed (except really rare stalking looney fulmo tunes) it is still a taboo to associate Aryans with anything in India including caste and Hinduism. I guess we should be patient and wait for another couple years to make one step in this direction. A small step for BP but a giant leap for mankind. It is a real gem that local IVC brahmins took the language from newly arrived nomads without mixing with them and produced vedas.

    1. The ignorance, imbecility, and muddle-headedness of @Milan Todorovic has reached heavenly proportions. “Aryan” is a self-designation that we, Indians gave to ourselves; lest this hidden Ku Klux Klan member aka white racist ignorantly rants that “Aryans” never existed.

      How can somebody be so foolish and uneducated?

    2. Continuation of my post for the dull-witted fellow @Milan Todorovic:

      1. “Aryan” is a religious, cultural identifier of people who follow Hinduism.
      2. The use of Aryan ethno-cultural self-designation is only attested among Indians and Iranians. If left to @Milan Todorovic, he would definitely state that the term originated in Serbia (lol).
      3. Its origin is not known; no PIE branch has something similar. We only know that the term originated in India at some point of time. It could very well be that Harappans called themselves Aryans; all the people who later came to India continued to use the term. Only time will tell.

      1. Like most words, “Aryan” has multiple senses that are not completely unrelated to each other but not really the same word semantically either.

        The term “Aryan” also has a narrower and somewhat more technical sense in anthropology, ancient history, and historical linguistics, referring to the ethnic peoples who spoke Sanskrit around the time that the Indo-European languages first appeared in South Asia, as distinct, for example, from the ethnic peoples who spoke Avestan Old Persian in what is now Iran, and the people who spoke Harappan, Dravidian and Munda languages in South Asia at that time.

      2. @ohwilleke
        You are right that the word “Aryan” has multiple meanings; Iranians also used a similar word “airya-” to distinguish themselves; but the words only exist in Indo-Iranian branch. Furthermore, it meant the people who lived in “Āryāvarta” to be exact. Therefore, both of the words could be borrowed from a single source. Harappans — who incidently also lived in “Āryāvarta” — were a likely source as according to archaeology, BMAC had similar culture, belief and language as Harappans. The recent genetic findings, however, state that steppe nomads bypassed BMAC, so now BMAC borrowings must be direct Harappan borrowings.

        If you have read Anthony, Witzel, they say that various PII words were borrowed from BMAC religion. The most astonishing part is that “Indra”, the chief god — about whom Vedas were written — was borrowed from BMAC religion; now, since we know that BMAC was bypassed, it must be borrowed from Harappans directly. So, the god Indra and Aryans must have existed in India before Steppe nomads arrived!

        Furthermore, I am not concerned with the meaning Academia gives to “Aryan”; their meaning is nonsense as the word is not their creation, but a borrowing from Indians. The origin could be Harappan/BMAC just like “Indra”. How muddle-headed can this be?

        Moreover, it is telling that after WW2, Europeans lost their enthusiasm for being Aryans! See the hurry in renaming Indo-Aryans to Indo-Europeans by academicians; even here the word meaning (for them) changed to whatever it suits their fancy. The word “Aryan” denoted Indians and a similar word Iranians since aeons, and therefore, it will remain so.

  13. “Castes also facilitate mutual familial support and political organization, which are necessary in a country with a state as pathetic as that of India.”

    Here is the thing- when I was growing up in India, nobody knew what caste was or the classification into 4 categories. People knew each others Jati. The brahmins did not have a higher status per se but were always discussed in terms of necessary religious officiators.They were needed and called for ceremonies. In addition a brahmin lady came in every week or so to collect food etc as religious offerings. This is how these brahmins got by. I did not see any rich, exploitative brahmin. The other middle castes just looked down on each other- believing ones to be superior than that of others. Punjabis (khatris) considered baniyas to be kanjoos and cowards. Baniyas thought them to be dishonest in business dealings etc. The marwaris and baniyas were able to create an extensive business networks based on jati trust and family (Hundi). In all I think it all comes down to trust and reliance on extended jati networks to enforce jati rules.
    I think if there was no strong state to enforce rules and justice, then it was the biradari that people relied on. If it stopped happening 1500 years ago, I would imagine thats when maybe there was no strong state anymore and people were protecting themselves and their own.

    Even today, I see in the informal money lending sector, people lend their money based on trust on the middleman. No documents required. Same with marriages of offsprings- arranging marriages to far away family of same jati based on the word of the matchmaker.
    The group value could be tiny differences. My extended family- mostly in Delhi, punjab, haryana would not deal with same jati folks beyond east of Yamuna. No UP folks. They were not considered upfront folks. Eating with right hand, serving with left is big with south Indians while north Indians remain ignorant of this.

    I think that each group just had shared values and if there are no avenues for intermixing with each other, people will just see each other and reinforce their values. Even in US, you have immigrants forming and sticking to their groups based on the comfort of shared memories and culture of the homeland. Nigerians, Caribbean African Americans, jews have their own groups even on college campuses. If people had no college or school experience in US, I doubt even this little mixing would happen.

    Same with India. The caste mixing is happening in urban areas where people are going to colleges, post colleges, MNC’s where people from different jaatis are thrown together.

  14. मोरोन फुल्मो ने फिर से रिपोर्ट नहीं करने का वादा किया लेकिन अपना वादा नहीं निभाया।

  15. “I’m a Tamil/Dravidian nationalist who thinks the subcontinent would be better off if it was divided into nation states on ethnolinguistic rather than religious lines”

    “Biharis and Tamils alike.”

    I don’t think it will be a win-win. Else, this would have already happened.
    There are certain ethnicities that *might* benefit from it – Tamils, Kashmiris, perhaps Malayalis or Bengalis. But there’s much for others to lose. Even Punjabis understand this.

    I think Tamils, especially ones who don’t live in India often project their own level of ethnic coherence onto other groups, which is not the case in reality.

    Also, I feel like this argument is made purely from an economic point of view, which doesn’t take into account the cost of maintaining a standing army + dealing with competing great power relations and other externalities. Just consider the annual Kaveri water dispute and how bad it can possibly go.

    The memory of colonialism still lingers in India and the fear that any weakness will be pounced upon by neighbours ready for slaughter.

    I agree on the Indian republic being an empire of a kind. But it’s an electoral empire.

    IMO this is also the reason it has the support it does. Because it is better at protecting individual rights than a pure democracy. The Indian state takes care of the little guy who’d be thrown by the way side otherwise in a stratified society like that of the subcontinent. Whether that be Dalits in UP or Mazhabis in Punjab or Gurjars in Kashmir.

    This also aligns with the interests of the elites, who are protected against the tyranny of the demographically larger middle castes and can at the same time take their cut from a much larger pool of combined resources.

    (I know it’s not perfect yada yada but just comparing with alternatives not with individual rights in say the US)

    1. “There are certain ethnicities that *might* benefit from it – Tamils,”

      What benefits? TN is currently India’s second largest State economy and the most urbanized state in India with low TFR. Think of the disaster that would befall if TN&India separate, India would lose a large chunk of its economy,territory and TN would lose the largest labour&consumer market it had easy access to. The only ones that’ll benefit from TN&India split is China. Only glue eaters think that ANYONE would benefit from leaving India.

      “The memory of colonialism still lingers in India and the fear that any weakness will be pounced upon by neighbours ready for slaughter.”

      Tamils have never been under 1000 years of Mughal Rule, and as a result Tamils have a much less turbulent recollection of history&Hinduism, Hinduism is subsumed into the Tamil Identity(Just look at the State Logo), Evangelists copy/paste Tamil Hindu Rituals&Festivals to gain converts, its hilarious. Tamils, like Kashmirs are geographically located at the extreme end of the Country, thus they have no recollection of events that captures the collective imagination of the Western,Central&North Indians.(ie: Rebellion of 1857, Invasion of Ghazni, Aurangzeb, Jaliawallah Bagh etc etc) However, that doesn’t mean Tamils don’t want to be a part of India but you’d have to come up with an inclusive Nationalism to bring Tamils into the fold, rather than “Hurr durr China gonna nuke us all” fear-mongering BS.

      “The Indian state takes care of the little guy who’d be thrown by the way side otherwise in a stratified society like that of the subcontinent”

      I gotta say, we use a very nonsensical definition of what constitutes a “Minority”. North Eastern States are also “little guys” population wise, everyone who isn’t a Hindi Speaker(40% of India) is a “little guy” in terms of pure demographic power but Central Govt doesn’t see it that way for some reason. Thankfully though, the 40% of Hindi Speakers lack a united ethnic consciousness and only vote along Caste or Hindu Nationalist Lines.

      1. “What benefits?”

        Ask that to your co-ethnics demanding freedom.

        “The only ones that’ll benefit from TN&India split is China.”

        Becoming a Chinese vassal state is not all that bad. Who knows?

        “Tamils have never been under 1000 years of Mughal Rule, and as a result Tamils have a much less turbulent recollection of history”

        I agree. That is why a separate state appeals to certain sections of Tamils more than it does to other groups.

        “I gotta say, we use a very nonsensical definition of what constitutes a “Minority””

        Never used the term minority. In any case, this applies as much to Dalits in Karnataka as in UP.

        1. Hey, he has admitted to be an NRI. He’s like a Canadian Khalistani, he doesn’t represent the average Tamilian’s views. He’s culturally more American than Indian, he most likely doesn’t even know what Dharma is.

          1. Of course I know what dharma is, you have a really weird idea of what people who disagree with you are like.

            For what it’s worth, I’m of mixed Hindu-Christian background, grew up with a fair exposure to the Hindu tradition, converted to Christianity in the early 2000s and gradually deconverted in the mid-2010s, these days would consider myself religious but not a member of a specific organized religion, but definitely drifting back into the Hindu fold and in a Hindu direction, and certainly “culturally” Hindu more than anything else. I think you can gather from all that that I have some sense of what the dharma is.

            It’s not at all uncommon for expatriates to be more nationalistic than their co-ethnics back home: outside the Indian context, it’s true for (for example) Estonians and Romanians, the ones living abroad are much more likely to vote for nationalist or ultranationalist parties than the ones back home.

            As for what Tamils in India would think, who knows, since advocacy for secessionism is illegal. However, for what it’s worth, the DMK (which is a *former* secessionist, Tamil-nationalist party) currently holds two thirds of the Lok Sabha seats from the state, so I think it’s fair to say that, at the very least, a “soft” kind of Tamil nationalism is still quite popular.

        2. “What benefits?”

          Ask that to your co-ethnics demanding freedom. ‘ Am i seeing a intra Dravidian war here 😛 ‘

          “The only ones that’ll benefit from TN&India split is China.”

          Becoming a Chinese vassal state is not all that bad. Who knows? ‘ Well we already have those vassal state(s) and parties WITHIN India, one particular state in the South and the East comes to my mind ‘

    2. I think this is all really true, and for all my criticism of India, it *could* certainly work a lot worse.

      I think one of the reasons India has “worked* to the degree it has, its because there hasn’t historically been one group that’s large enough to impose its will on everyone else- people are too divided along caste, ethnic, and linguistic lines for that to happen. My fear with Hindu nationalism is that if the BJP does manage to erode linguistic and caste boundaries and create a united pan-Hindu identity (I think Faisal Devji was quoted as saying something similar on the Brown Pundits podcast last year), they’ll be strong enough to roll over lots of minority groups, and not just Muslims either.

      1. “DMK (which is a *former* secessionist, Tamil-nationalist party)”

        WTF are you smoking? DMK is not a Tamil Nationalist party, its a failed Dravidian Nationalist party and is opposed to Tamil Nationalism. DMK is also anti-Hindu despite the fact that 90% of Tamils are highly conservative Hindus.

        There was no Tamil, Telugu, Kannada&Malayalam State before 1956, DMK wanted a seperate Dravidian State created from merging the *former* Madras/Mysore/Travancore States.

        1. I know, but they’re *effectively* a Tamil nationalist party since they only exist in the Tamil lands today.

          1. “but they’re *effectively* a Tamil nationalist party”

            What part of “DMK OPPOSES Tamil Nationalism” can you not read? You’re incredibly stupid and i’m done talking with you.

        2. ” DMK is not a Tamil Nationalist party, its a failed Dravidian Nationalist party”

          Considering DMK(or its spin off) have been ruling the state for better part of the last 70 years, u seem 2 have some serious benchmark for what amounts as success.

          1. They failed at getting an independent nation state, but in fairness, secessionist advocacy has been illegal in India since the early 1960s, so they didn’t really have much of a chance to make that case.

            In any case, of all the left wing parties in India, they’ve done better at retaining their vote share than the BSP, Samajwadi, or the various Communist parties, so I’d say they’re at least doing some things right.

          2. Well almost all the parties outside India’s heartland started off as secessionist/ anti India parties, including the left parties. That would mean all of them failed.

          3. \They failed at getting an independent nation state\

            DMK failed?They did not even try. Even in their election manifesto in the first election in 1952 , there was no such agenda.

            DMK is 99% an oppurtunist party. It’s leaders are one of the wealthiest in India , and only becoming more so. Now it is completely in the hands of one family , that of late M.karunanidhi, just as Congress is firmly in the grip of Nehru Dynasty.
            The purpose of DMK is to keep Karunidhi family in power and make it richer – rest is oppurtunistic rhetoric

  16. obviously caste is real, and i will also take geneticists’ word for it that it is real enough to leave a genetic imprint on the DNA of indians.

    however i do suspect that caste was a a sociological feature of india that got retrospectively applied to hinduism.

    everything in india ultimately gets tied to hindu religion. origins of festivals, legends associated with rivers and mountains, everything is sourced back to religion. ( it is amusing to note how many places of pilgrimage have some legend associated to them about being visited by pandavas during their years of exile.)

    i have read some hindu religious texts, and though i am no hinduism scholar, i have read enough to get the gist. there is certainly some injunctions against indiscriminate mixing of jatis, but the tone is usually frowning in nature rather than absolutely forbidding . also, modern indian castes like yadava or jats or reddys etc are not mentioned at all (how can they be when these castes probably didn’t even exist when these texts were written), and there are no rules governing the intermarriage between these castes.

    which makes me speculate that since in a large and populous country there was no dearth of finding partner within one’s own professional guild or village, caste endogamy set in in the natural course of events. once crystallized, religious justification was applied to it retrospectively so the process was really backwards.

    just my 2 cents. willing to change my theory if other readers can give better counter arguments.

  17. girmit and Hector, for argument’s sake, set aside emotional and psychological factors. Indian nationalism is imbibed mostly in schools, which you havent been through. Let us take a purely instrumental view.

    As holders of American passports, you have unfettered access to NY, the Bay Area, LA, San Diego and other thriving American markets. Why do you think any ethnic group in India would like to lose easy access to Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad ? In their endorsement of ethno-chauvinism in India, woke South Asian North Americans are failing to recognize their own privilege of American access.

    1. Vikram, not sure why you think i’m woke or left-oriented. I consider soft ethno-nationalism to be a conservative position, and i’m indifferent to the valence the concept of privilege has in the current discourse. I’m not an advocate of separatism, and favor more autonomy/fiscal devolution within the status-quo. I find the idea of india inspiring and feel kinship with indics, but the fetishization of the indian administrative state as the lone manifestation of that civilization, if anything, minimizes the grandeur of the idea which i believe transcends the latter mediocrity (being generous). Also, i would say that the pan-indian union would have been a worthy end goal, once the constituent pieces had matured and developed more robust internal capacities. As far as indians having access to the huge metropolises of the common market that exists now, I think thats a very indian presumption that multiple indian states would have restricted access severely to each others markets, because the need to control and paranoia is typical of the current state and by taking it for granted one precludes the likelihood that SAARC could have been like ASEAN. Moreover, if unification in Delhi is the only thing keeping the peace, then what does it say about us? Finally, the question of sub-nationalism arose is the context of “what would have been better in 1947?” not as a current course of action. The states of the republic could do well by not treating the union as sacrosanct and negotiate pragmatically.

      1. ASEAN does not allow free movement of labour, only 30 day visitor visas. Also, Singapore does not let a portion of its mega surplus get used for human and infrastructure in Laos. There has to be an emotional investment.

        Ashis Nandy points out in his ‘Tao of Cricket’ that Indian nationalism is ‘anti-self’ rather than ‘not-self’. In other words, we deny total expression of a part of ourselves to remain open to others. This kind of identity formation has deep roots in Indian philosophical and religious traditions.

        1. Vikram, Asean is an example of a common market with limitations on migration and there are others which have less, like the East African Community or EU or Mercosur. So many models to consider. I have lived and worked in India for more than a decade have had both central and various state governments as clients. I’m no longer idealistic about the higher mission of the former. The Indian philosophical tradition is impressively variegated and i’m sure we could support any political outlook if we try hard enough.

          1. Straight out dictatorial regimes rule Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. Thailand is not a lot better. Being an atheist is a crime in Indonesia. Malaysia has a death penalty for apostasy in certain regions. Are you still ‘idealistic’ about ASEAN ?

          2. India is good at conducting elections and maintaining freedoms where there’s nothing at stake. In many Asean nations, the liberties expressed on the ground are more substantive. Some of us just see a different, although potentially more tumultuous, pathway to prosperity and a lot of our difference of opinion could be aesthetic and cultural. You are perhaps seeing reasons (IRL) for optimism and progress where I am not, and that’s fair enough.

    2. Hi Vikram,
      I’m pretty far from “woke”, for what it’s worth. I’d describe myself as hard-left on economic issues (somewhere in the realm of Janos Kadar, I guess), moderate on “social” issues, and conservative-reactionary on “cultural” issues, especially around ethnicity, immigration, and nationality. To be specific, I’m generally a strong believer in the virtues of tribal societies and deeply skeptical of cosmopolitan societies. Therefore, I’m generally in favour of relatively ethnically homogeneous nation-states, where it’s feasible, because I think the “ethnic homeland” model of the state is the best modern day approximation to the kind of tribal societies in which the human species spent most of its history and prehistory. You could call me a collectivist-nationalist I guess, but I’m definitely not progressive, liberal, or “woke” in general. (Not that I identify with Anglo-American conservatism either, I have no fondness for capitalism, white nationalism / imperialist nostalgia, or evangelical Christian moral norms, which means I have no real political home in this country).

      I don’t really find your argument about loss of access to Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai to be convincing. Yes, at the material level it would suck, but I think there are things that are more important than material prosperity, and national identity is one of them. This is the same reason that I’m opposed to the European Union for example (although I’d be fairly OK with a trade pact that didn’t allow freedom of movement), and why I generally oppose large scale immigration: I don’t think the increased prosperity associated with migration is worth the loss of ethnic, cultural and national identity. As Girmit mentions, it’s also very possible you could continue to have trade and economic interactions even if India were to break up into more cohesive ethnolinguistic nation states.
      As far as the United States, I think the United States is already way too big, and my preference would be for it to break up into smaller, more cohesive countries, so I’m not convinced with that argument either. I’d gladly give up my chance to visit California if it meant that the United States would no longer be the global behemoth dominating the world (usually not to any good effect).
      Thank you for your thought provoking comments however!

      1. “Yes, at the material level it would suck, but I think there are things that are more important than material prosperity”

        Since you happen to have unfettered access to the most materially prosperous economy in the history of mankind, asking other people to suck it up can only count as rank hypocrisy.

      2. @Hector_St_Clare
        “because I think the “ethnic homeland” model of the state is the best modern day approximation to the kind of tribal societies in which the human species spent most of its history and prehistory.”

        Surely there’s space for more than one model?

        Also, where do you draw the line for what constitutes an ethnicity?

        The Hindutva types might contend that all Hindus form an ethnicity. On the other end, you might have caste groups like, say, Iyer Brahmins who would identify as a separate ethnicity from, say, Nadars.

        Not each of them can have their own state and not each of them might be comfortable with an independent Tamil state where their rights are subsumed under a broader Tamil identity a la Francization. The Indian state in effect protects these groups from assimilation.

        If there was consensus on what level of resolution is sufficient for an optimal state in a fractally distributed society, it would have already happened.

        “and why I generally oppose large scale immigration: I don’t think the increased prosperity associated with migration is worth the loss of ethnic, cultural and national identity. ”

        If I remember correctly, you’ve mentioned that you were brought up in the US. How do you look at your position in the American society?

        Do you wish to settle down in Tamil Nadu in the future and marry within your own community?

        You can choose to not answer if these questions are too personal. I just want to understand your thought process.

        1. “The Hindutva types might contend that all Hindus form an ethnicity. ”

          Not all Hindus, though. Some more than others.😉

        2. Totally agree, break up of India into linguistic or ethnicity based nations would be an unmitigated disaster. As folks have touched upon the cost aspects (of maintaining armies, negotiating treaties, etc) I’ll just say that a united Indian nation offers people from the various homelands a chance to leave behind their respective historic baggage and forge a new identity for the future. Yes I’m aware that this would be weighed unfairly towards the demographically more numerous, and the economically laggard states would pull down the whole system but that’s always going to be there. Even in Europe, many in well-to-do Catalonia desire separation from Spain, among many such example. So even in a separate Karnataka or Maharashtra, South Karnataka and the Konkan would want special treatment, etc. Balkanisation ad infinitum is the worst possible way to sort this.

          A united India also allowed English to take root as a link language and grow into it’s own. The Indian IT sector, space sector, national institues of higher learning are all products of a post-independence project that no ethnicity can claim for their own, and which are based upon the use of English – as good a reason for staying together as any other.

        3. Prats,

          Thank you for your lengthy and polite response. Sorry for waiting a while to respond, but I wanted to make sure I had time to respond in the detail that your thoughtful questions deserve. Thank you also for your unusually civil response.

          Surely there’s space for more than one model?

          Yes, totally. The United States, in which I live, is an obvious example of a country that isn’t formed around ethnicity. I *dislike* the United States, I wish it didn’t exist in its current form, and I think its overall influence on world history has been negative, but it certainly exists, and for the time being at least, it’s stable and prosperous. I think that in a perfect world there would be lots of different types of society, the “multinational empire” model (America, India, etc.), the “tribal homeland” model (Poland, Japan, etc.), the “cosmopolitan city state model” (Singapore, etc.), probably others that I haven’t thought of. I obviously *prefer* the Poland type model, but I think there are lots of types of people in the world, lots of types of personalities as well, and we need zones of cosmopolitanism as much as we need zones of homogeneity.

          Also, where do you draw the line for what constitutes an ethnicity?

          The Hindutva types might contend that all Hindus form an ethnicity. On the other end, you might have caste groups like, say, Iyer Brahmins who would identify as a separate ethnicity from, say, Nadars.

          Yea, this is also a really good point, and I often point this out to other people, that ethnicity in the South Asian context is complicated by caste and religion. I *wish* that caste was less salient historically (i.e. I’m one of those people that Razib was laughing at on his podcast a while ago, who wishes that South Indian Brahmins were more similar genetically to other South Indians), but I realise that the history and genetics are not in my favour here. Ethnicity is obviously a complicated and contested subject, and how it’s defined is ultimately a question that’s decided in the political arena. My own personal definition is ethnolinguistic- I’d say that a self identified Tamil in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, or the United States is my kinsman, regardless of whether they’re Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Jain, in a way that my next door White or Black American neighbor is not- but I realize of course that many disagree. I deeply disagree with the idea that “Hindus” are an ethnicity, just like I disagree with the idea that “white people” globally are a meaningful ethnicity, but I’m cognizant that I have to *make* that case rather than simply assume it. I think the key point I’d make here is that as you enlarge your circle of belonging, there’s a tradeoff between the benefits associated with size (increased markets, increased pool of talent, benefits associated with large cities etc) and the costs associated with size (the larger your definition of the nation, the less you have in common, both genetically and culturally, and consequently the weaker the ties of mutual loyalty). I think the optimal size for a nation-state is much closer to 70 million than to 1+ billion (and in support, I’d point to the increasingly shambolic state of the United States compared to European countries), but I realize you might disagree.

          Not each of them can have their own state and not each of them might be comfortable with an independent Tamil state where their rights are subsumed under a broader Tamil identity a la Francization. The Indian state in effect protects these groups from assimilation.

          I think this is absolutely correct, and for all my deep criticisms of India, I think things certainly could have been worse: I certainly value the fact that the Indian central government has *not* imposed the Hindi language on southern states, for example, and that in some practical ways Indian states enjoy more genuine political freedom than American states do. In my *perfect* world, there would be a Tamil version of Poland or Israel, but in the world we live in, I realize that the Indian state has been way better than it might otherwise have been.

          If there was consensus on what level of resolution is sufficient for an optimal state in a fractally distributed society, it would have already happened.

          “and why I generally oppose large scale immigration: I don’t think the increased prosperity associated with migration is worth the loss of ethnic, cultural and national identity. ”

          If I remember correctly, you’ve mentioned that you were brought up in the US. How do you look at your position in the American society?

          Do you wish to settle down in Tamil Nadu in the future and marry within your own community?

          You can choose to not answer if these questions are too personal. I just want to understand your thought process.

          Well. let me start by stating that I think that there’s a very, very, very strong difference between what’s pleasant and enjoyable for me as an individual, and what’s good for the world, in an objective sense. I’m at some level a deracinated WEIRDo, I’m a postdoctoral biology researcher living in the depths of the American Corn Belt, and at this point I probably feel more personal ties to Michigan (where I spent six fairly formative years of my life) than to either the Northeastern US where I grew up, or to Tamil Nadu which I consider my homeland. Like Saint Augustine was an intellectual who was deeply suspicious of the intellect, I’m an immigrant (child of immigrants, technically) who’s deeply suspicious/critical of immigration. To be frank, if I was to move to TN (or, if it ever became independent, a hypothetical Eelam) tomorrow, I’d never genuinely be happy there. That said, I think I need to base my politics on what’s good for the world, not what’s good for me personally, and I absolutely think that what’s good for the world is a global order with more ethnically homogeneous, cohesive nation states, not less of them. I mean, take a moment and look at the kind of ethno-racial conflicts that are besetting America right now, and then compare that to a country like, say, Poland or Japan (or for that matter Botswana, one of the few relatively homogeneous countries on the African continent): can you seriously argue that
          America is a *good* model for the rest of the world?

          I have no particular interest currently in moving to South Asia (although I’ve gotten less averse to the concept in the last few years). Mostly because I really dislike hot climates (I lived in an African village for three years, so I can deal with it, but it isn’t my preference), both personally and professionally (among my work interests, I look at cold tolerance in plants). I will say though that the one condition that would make me move back in a heartbeat, and marry and have children with one of my co ethnics, is if an independent Tamil nation was created (either in India or Sri Lanka). That would push all my ethnic-nationalist buttons and would make me want to make a pilgrimage home in the same way Jews historically made a pilgrimage back to Israel.

      3. \it’s also very possible you could continue to have trade and economic interactions even if India were to break up into more cohesive ethnolinguistic nation states\
        This flies in the face of all lessons from history – European nationalims are based on mostly ethnolinguistic nation states , that has led to 2 world wars within the last 100 years. India and pakistan were divided on religious basis – on the initiative of Muslim League- the beneficiaries are the religious fundemnetalists and chauvinists in Pakistan for 73 years and more recently Hindutva in India. If you make a political division on the basis of chavinism, ethocentric and chavinistic forces will be unleashed with even more ferocity since the creation of new states proves their historical rightness and justness

        InIndia, conecpt and construction of ethnic identities esp based on common language is recent and it does not work well

        China offers a model of ethnic homogeneity and even ethnocentrism , the deal being economic progress. India offers ethnic and caste multiplicity , on economic progress India is more hedged

      4. “I think there are things that are more important than material prosperity, and national identity is one of them”
        Indian States are allowed to have their own Sub-National Identity which can exist concurrently to the Indian one. Indian Nationalism has space for just about anyone. Its left to the respective communities to weave themselves into the National fabric over time, certain groups such as Muslims resist Cultural assimilation, but most Hindus have no trouble imagining themselves as a part of a large Hindu Political Union, despite the ethnic differences.

        Indian State can resist the tide of Chinese,Western&Islamic Power-Plays using its Size&Economy, if India gets fragmented, its over for South Asians. Fragmented Indian Cultures will slowly get taken over by stronger Geo-political entities. It’ll be like South America’s Europeanization but India would get Islamized instead due to its closer proximity to other Islamic Theocracies.

        “but I think there are things that are more important than material prosperity,”
        Tell that to the masses of self-employed public sector workers in India who live hand to mouth.

        “I generally oppose large scale immigration: I don’t think the increased prosperity associated with migration is worth the loss of ethnic, cultural and national identity”
        Says the Immigrant, if Irony could kill. You’d be dead in 20 different ways.

  18. Any information on Balinese Hinduism? Apparently it has a Caste system, but I don’t imagine it maps onto the same “Steppe Ancestry” type division as in India. So how did it evolve? Was it a matter of local elites mimicking Indian elites?

    1. They have a “thin” caste system. Plus, unlike India, their caste markings are through their first name rather than the last.

    2. Balinese Hindus also apparently self identify as strictly monotheistic. This might be an adaptation to the realities of modern Indonesia (Indonesian constitution does not recognize polytheistic religions), or it might predate that, I’m not sure.

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